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They shouldn’t have to


I work for a weekly newspaper.  I’m a graphic designer, and I often distance myself here on this blog from my work.  Because it’s proper to distance yourself from your work when attempting to discuss politics and world events.

Recently, we’ve witnessed terrible attacks in Paris that have claimed lives.  These attacks were organized by European nationals who allied themselves with Daesh (ISIL).  Other attacks have happened in Beirut, Nigeria, Pakistan and other countries.  But often, the media tends to ignore them because they aren’t in Europe or North America.  Many of the other attacks were carried out by agents of Daesh or Boko Haram (who famously kidnapped and sold over 200 teenage girls from a school).

In response to those attacks, many Muslim organizations have denounced the attacks.  Here in West Central Saskatchewan, there is a mosque not far from Unity (in another city, I’ll leave the name out because I don’t wish for them to be attacked by useless Internet trolls).  This mosque happens to be the home of a denomination of Islam that takes all of the very peace loving aspects of the Koran to heart.  It’s a small denomination, and in other parts of the world they are often the targets of terrorist activities (surprise! Muslims often suffer the most from Muslim extremists).

This mosque recently sent a letter to the editor to our newspaper, denouncing the attacks, offering prayers to the victims and citing that this is not something that Islam aspires to be.  It’s something that over the past 14 years since 9-11 we’ve heard from Muslim organizations across North America.

But they shouldn’t have to.  I feel as though they’ve been forced into doing this to appease the fear mongers and right wing bigots. Every time something like this happens, the right wing bigots turn up the hate and turn up the fear mongering and look toward the Muslim community in Canada and start snarling at it.  And like clockwork, the Muslim community denounces it.  On the one hand, yes, we should all be denouncing incredible attacks of violence and seeking to end this conflict by finding a peaceful solution and helping the affected countries build themselves up (not with occupying forces).  We, being non-Muslims, don’t denounce attacks like what happened to 9 parishioners who were gunned down in a church by a racist militant.  We don’t step up and denounce the shooting of random civilians in Noway.  We don’t denounce the attacks against women and people of colour by someone who writes a manifesto blaming feminists.

Okay, often we do, but we’re not expected to.

The language we use as non-Muslims to denounce a shooting incident is worded very differently than when a Muslim organization denounces an attack as what happened in Paris.  And what we say and when we say it is very different than when Muslims prepare for something similar.  And they shouldn’t have to.  We shouldn’t demand that a mosque in the middle of the Canadian Prairies immediately put out a press release denouncing these attacks.

It should be us, we non-Muslims, immediately turning around and saying we will protect our Muslim neighbours in Canada to ensure they do not fall victim to acts of violence, and that they do not fall victim to the charisma of a violent organization.  We will do that by ensuring their safety as we ensure all Canadians safety, by helping to grow a strong economy that will guarantee they have employment so they can raise their families, and to ensure they have the best access to educational and medical establishments as every other Canadian has.

It should be we as Canadians reaching out to Muslims to give them hope that we see them as our countrymen, as our neighbours and as our friends.  Because they are being affected by these terrible acts of violence just as badly as the rest of us are.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2015 in Life, Opinion, randomness

 

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Canada, Trudeau, and Syrian Refugees


It’s been an interesting if not harrowing week on the world stage.  One cannot ignore the attacks that happened in Paris and the subsequent reaction.  Especially toward refugees who are escaping the Middle East in fear for their lives.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced that he thought it was realistic to help bring in 25,000 refugees into Canada.  But many are questioning this after the attacks.  One of the main concerns is whether or not terrorists will come along with those refugees.

Here’s some facts.

Authorities in France have discovered that the identities of those responsible are all European nationals.  Meaning, they already lived in different areas of Europe.  One might say “but why would Europeans do that” and the answer is simple.  Daesh (ISIL) is playing one side against the other.  They are hoping that incredible Islamaphobia will drive Muslims to the fold and commit acts of terror against the West because Daesh wants that.  They really want a holy war.  And we’re falling right into that, because Daesh is smart enough to know that they can play off of the fears of right wing Christian fundamentalists in the West.  All of the current talk going on in the United States right now about refugees, Daesh knew that was going to happen and counted on it to happen.

Since 9-11 over three quarters of a million immigrants have come to the United States and Canada.  The percentage of those who have committed terrorist attacks since then; Zero.  Not one immigrant of Middle Eastern origin has committed an act of terrorism since September 11, 2001.  Any and all attacks were from natural born Canadians and Americans.  And while there is evidence of one Middle Eastern American who did make an attack on an army base, he was born in the United States.  All other attacks that have happened since 9-11 on Canadian and American soil, and there have been hundreds, have all been committed by right wing Christian fundamentalists.  Many of those with white supremacist leanings.

Because refugees don’t want to come here.  They’d rather not be on the run.  They’d love to go back to their homes, but they can’t because Daesh is literally killing them.  Scenes like what happened in Germany, where thousands welcomed Syrian refugees with open arms strikes a blow to Daesh because they don’t want that seen.  They’d like nothing better than to see continued discrimination of Syrian refugees.  Because they hope that will drive them to Daesh.

As for the 25,000 refugees Canada will allow; we have 10 provinces and 3 territories.  Divided equally, that’s 1,923 people per region.  In Saskatchewan, there are five major cities (Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and Lloydminster), five secondary cities (North Battleford, Swift Current, Yorkton, Weyburn and Estavan), and several minor cities (such as Melfort, Humboldt, Melville and Kindersley).  Taking those cities into account, if you did the math that’s 137 people per city.

We need to welcome these people with open arms much in the way Germany did.  To send a message to Daesh that we aren’t going to fall into their trap.  That we aren’t going to help drive Syrians and Muslims to join Daesh and fulfill their wish of a holy war war which pits Muslims against the West.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2015 in Life, Opinion, randomness, Rants

 

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78 Days Later


Sure, this could be the title for a zombie movie, but this has a much different feel to it.

That was the length of this past Canadian election.

In the end, when the dust settled, Justin Trudeau and his liberals cruised to a majority.  They pushed hope instead of fear that Harper’s Conservatives were pushing at nearly every step.  The Conservative campaign was a dark side of Canadian politics, as candidates openly voiced their homophobic and Islamophobic platforms.  They tried to ignore the scandals, tried to circumvent the Supreme Court of Canada, and tried to use fear of the Other as a way to win the heart of Canadians.

But Canadians are not a hateful people.

In a best case scenario, Trudeau would still be Prime Minister, with Thomas Mulcair as Official Opposition.  The Conservatives voted into political oblivion.  That is a just punishment for attempting to bring about fear and hatred into the hearts of Canadians.

Globally under Harper and the Conservatives, Canada has fallen.  We no longer had the respect we had earned under other governments.  We were a laughing stock that muzzled scientists, that censored the media, that did not have compassion nor empathy for our fellow citizens of this planet.  Under the Conservatives, we would have become just another American State.

Now, we have hope, albeit a cautious one.  Now Trudeau has his work cut out for him, but we can help.  Voters of every political stripe have the right to reach out to our new Prime Minister with suggestions of how to better make Canada great again.  We were a great nation at one time.  For ten years, we lost sight of that.

But now we can rise to that level once again.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Life, Opinion, randomness

 

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Please stop using my religion


Hi there.  This is something that I need to say to all those who consider themselves Christian.  Like me, many believe in an afterlife, that there is a saviour in Jesus Christ and he did some pretty cool things while on this Earth.

Unlike me, many of the Christians I speak of (you know who the fuck you are) deny scientific evidence of the age of the world, of climate change (which is never made mention of in the Bible at all), and continue to use Christ and his teachings as a way to denounce same sex marriage (hint: he never actually does say anything about same sex marriage).

Back in the day when Charles Darwin wrote on his theories of evolution, the book didn’t originally sell that well.  Mostly because it confused a lot of people, not because it had some outrageous theories.  The Church of England, when people began checking it out again, actually came forward and said “hey, this book is actually pretty good, and really describes a way that God created man, we think it’s awesome”.  So, the Church of England was pretty cool with the concept that man evolved from a lesser species to become what he and she is today.  What they couldn’t fuckin’ understand is that nature isn’t just oblivious to feelings or anything, but it’s actually pretty fuckin’ cruel.  Because nature has an IDGAF attitude about, well, everything.

The Bible’s not a scientific document.  If anything, it’s closer to an historical document (that’s been heavily edited over the centuries and with books removed because the religious establishment found them icky… I want a director’s cut of the Bible, really).

For those right-wing, Christian fascists who celebrate recently award Bigot of Honour medal by some dumb, fucking Republican racist shit bag, please indicate one section in the teachings of Christ where he said same sex marriage (or gay and lesbian relationships) is bad.  I’ll wait.  No really.

Bet you can’t find one, because Christ never said that shit.  As a matter of fact, Christ actually blesses a same sex relationship because the commitment that both men have for each other.  Christ thought it was cool that these two guys were so committed and so in love, so He said “You guys are cool, I’m honoured that you have such love for each other”.

Oh, but there you are, Christian fascists, pointing to Leviticus.  All the while forgetting that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross meant that was the last sacrifice for any Christian, and that all the old laws were nullified that’s to His death and His resurrection three days later.  Here’s 2 Corinthians 3:14 mutherfuckers!

However, their minds were hardened, for to this day the same veil is still there when they read the old covenant. Only in union with the Messiah is that veil removed.

See that shit!  That’s saying that only those who follow Christ’s teachings will realize that the old laws were no longer needed.  Christ’s sacrifice freed the people from following the laws set down in Leviticus.

Let’s move on.

A lotta you right-wing Christian bigots are claiming that your spiritual laws should outweigh the laws set down by Congress (in the States, and Parliament in Canada and the UK), or by the Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, completely forgetting something in the Constitution (for the States at least).

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But wait!  There’s more!

There are two clauses which deal with freedom of religion.

The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the “separation of church and state.” Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of “blue laws” is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person’s practice of their religion.

This basically means the government can operate without having to worry about religious doctrine.  ‘Cause let’s face it, ya want religion in your government, then ask yourself which religion.  Catholic?  Anglican? Protestant?  Evangelical?  Presbyterian?  Apostolic?  Mormon?  Each denomination differs greatly from the other in many different ways.  It’s one reason why the Amish and some Mennonite colonies do not work for government institutions.  They also don’t push their religion on others (I’m lookin’ at you, Jehovah’s Witnesses).

The government even states that there is a separation of church and state.  Where religion will not interfere with the day to day running of the government.

Long post is long, but there’s a point to all of this.  And this is something directed at every right-wing Christian Evangelical Fundamentalist that’s out there.

STOP FUCKIN’ USING THE BIBLE LIKE YOU’D USE A BUFFET TABLE!  My religion doesn’t exist for your bigotry, so stop fuckin’ usin’ it like that!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Life, Opinion, randomness, Rants

 

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Winds of Change


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There has been something said that many thought would never happen.  Things written that many journalists thought they would never write.  Those words are simple, but they are shocking.  All of it deals with the recent election in Alberta.

The Alberta NDP will form the next Alberta Government.

It’s shocking for many reasons.  The first being the end of 44 years of Progressive Conservative rule in Alberta.  The second, a complete shift in political ideology from right wing to left wing.  Not only did the NDP form the government, but the Wild Rose Party formed the Official Opposition, leaving the PCs in third place.  This election also brought about the highest number of female MLAs to now sit in any legislature in Canada.  Definitely progress.

That progress, of course, comes on the heels of the election in Prince Edward Island where the Liberal Party won their third majority, but the big news was the fact that PEI’s Premier is only the second openly gay Premier in Canada, and the first for the Province of Prince Edward Island.  Wade MacLauchlan joins Kathlene Wynne who was elected Premier of Ontario in 2013.

But there are those who are being cautious, and those who are breeding fear, about an NDP government in Alberta.  Those who are being cautious are holding a wait and see attitude toward Rachel Notley and her NDP government.  Others are comparing this to the mid 1990’s when Bob Rae lead the NDP to government in Ontario.  Many analysts, however, are pointing to a younger generation of voters who are sick and tired of the attitudes of right wing politicians and right wing governments.  And then there’s those who are looking at this election in Alberta and wondering how that will affect the upcoming Federal election in October.

Everything will have to be a wait and see situation.  From how the NDP performs in Alberta all the way to what the results of this will have on the Federal election.

But make no mistake, the winds of change were definitely blowing.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Life, Opinion, randomness

 

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Before we start saying “That doesn’t happen here”


A lot of Canadians right now are looking at Ferguson and saying “thank God that doesn’t happen here”.  Stop saying that right now.  Because, in this country, we’ve got a history that may not involve African Canadians, but there is another group which does have a history of such conflicts.  And it dates back to before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

In more recent history, First Nations people in Canada have had clashes with the police as they protest to demand the same rights that every other Canadian has.

The Oka Crisis

Beginning July 11, 1990, a 78 day armed standoff took place near the town of Oka, Quebec.  Between Mohawk residents of Kanesatake, the Quebec provincial police, and the Canadian Armed Forces, Mohawk leaders demanded that developers stop a planned expansion of a golf course on land that had been disputed for over 300 years.  Deemed a sacred burial ground, Mohawk people began with peaceful barricades which were met with armed police and soldiers.

The Innu occupation and blockade of the Canadian Air Force/NATO base at Goose Bay, Labrador

Largely started by Innu women to challenge the further dispossession of their territories and the destruction of their land-based way of life by the military industrial complex’s encroachment onto the Innu peoples’ homeland of Nitassinan.

The Lubicon Cree struggle against oil and gas development on their traditional territories in present day Alberta

The Lubicon Cree have been struggling to protect a way of life threatened by intensified capitalist development on their homelands since at least 1939. Over the years, the community has engaged in a number of very public protests to get their message across, including a well-publicized boycott of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and the associated Glenbow Museum exhibit, The Spirit Sings.

First Nations blockades in British Columbia

Throughout the 1980s, First Nations in B.C. grew extremely frustrated with the painfully slow pace of the federal government’s comprehensive land claims process and the province’s racist refusal to recognize Aboriginal title within its its borders.  The result was a decade’s worth of very disruptive blockades, which at its height in 1990 were such a common occurrence that Vancouver newspapers felt the need to publish traffic advisories identifying delays caused by First Nation roadblocks in the province’s interior. Many of the blockades were able to halt resource extraction on Native land for protracted periods of time.

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake

By 1989, the Algonquins of Barrier Lake were embroiled in a struggle to stop clear-cut logging within their traditional territories in present day Quebec because these practices threatened their land and way of life. Under the leadership of customary chief, Jean-Maurice Matchewan, the community used blockades to successfully impede clear-cutting activities affecting their community.

The Temagami First Nation blockades of 1988 and 1989 in present-day Ontario.

The Temagami blockades were set up to protect their nation’s homeland from further encroachment by non-Native development. The blockades of 1988-89 were the most recent assertions of Temagami sovereignty in over a century-long struggle to protect the community’s right to land and freedom from colonial settlement and development.

To the more recent activities of the Idle No More protests, First Nations people in Canada have been met by armed police and military walls.  Go back further to 1885 when Louis Riel organized First Nation and Metis people against the federal government when land settled and farmed by Metis settlers was being taken away for the more European settlers the federal government was trying to get in the territory which would eventually become the Province of Saskatchewan.  Or years earlier, when Riel began his organized protests that helped usher in the Province of Manitoba.

We live in a country where Aboriginal women don’t grow up with the fear of if they are ever raped but when they are.  Aboriginal women suffer and massively disproportionate amount of violence, with the largest perpetrator of that violence being white men.  Called a silent genocide, Aboriginal women suffer the most of any violence that is inflicted against First Nation people.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a problem with an anti-black attitude in Canada as well.  Alberta has a high number of organized KKK.  In 1991, Leo Lachance was shot and killed by Carly Nerland outside a pawn shop in Prince Albert.  Nerland, a member of the KKK and lead of the Saskatchewan branch of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian Aryan Nation.  There have been white supremest groups in Canada identified with names like Heritage Front and Final Solution.

Almost one hundred years ago, in 1919 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, The Halifax Race Riots began as a group of drunk men with nothing better to do, and ended up with a two day charge of destruction.  The targets were mostly Chinese, Jewish, and black owned businesses.  Decades later in 1991, a similar event would happen as young black men believed they were targeted by a white bouncer who would not allow them to enter a night club in Halifax.

So we have this problem in Canada.  The main difference being it doesn’t happen as often.  But it does happen.  It may not be as extensive as what is going on in Ferguson right now, but it does happen.  We’re on the cusp of something like Ferguson happening in this country with First Nation people.  They have been frustrated ever since the Meeche Lake Accords excluded Aboriginal people.  They have been frustrated with the lack of protection and the lack of interest in solving the disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women.  There is also the racially charged attacks against those people who are identified as being of Middle Eastern ancestry.  Ever since 911, these attacks, whether considered verbal or physical, have happened in this country.

So do not look at Ferguson and say “thank God that doesn’t happen here”, because we’re not without blame for our own misgivings.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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That’s So METAL!


This is partially going to go hand in hand with my NaNoWriMo and the fact I’m writing about superheroes as they might exist in our world.  It’s a tale that starts in the 1970s and keeps going right up to present day.

A big part of that includes the changes in music, and I often get the feeling that the music is being played by a particular band in this universe (named Blanc Noir, but could be changed to Seven Years of Blood because that sounds way cooler).  The band is unorthodox, because it doesn’t really fit into what might be considered the mainstream metal norm.  Unfortunately, the mainstream metal norm often includes bands like Metallica, Megadeath, Iron Maiden, and even Van Halen (which could be considered pop metal).  Even bands like Amon Amarth might fit that more mainstream feel.

Here in North America, we often think of a metal band being something akin to Bon Jovi, Poison, Warrant, Metallica, Megadeath, Van Halen, Helix, Kick Axe, or Guns ‘n Roses.  But metal has a wide diversity.

In Europe, artists are marrying metal with symphonic and operatic sounds and coming up with things like Nightwish, Within Temptation, or even Amaranthe.  In Japan, there’s Baby Metal, combining the bubble gum sounds of pop with gothic death metal.  And then there’s the metal bands which could be considered mainstream but are often forgotten by the mainstream for one reason only.

Those are bands like Living Color, Wicked Wisdom, and even Sevendust, all of which are either fronted by or are completely comprised of African American musicians.  It’s still the same kind of metal, but with a bit of a different twist.

It’s combinations of these that I’ve put together with this fictional metal band in the Heroic League Project.  Three of the band members are costumed crime fighters themselves, two of which are the daughters of former heroes and have taken up their parents’ (or aunt’s) former code names.  The band plays a huge part in this universe, a gothic metal band from Montreal that’s completely bilingual and records many of their tracks and even performs in Quebecois.  Four of the members are women (which is a call back to the 80s glam metal group Vixen).  Two members, brother and sister, are Haitian Canadian (rhythm guitar and lead vocalist). one is Jewish (drummer), one is Metis (lead guitar), and one is Dakota (bassist, who is also blind).  The lead vocalist is male, everyone else is female but performs vocal duties as well as their regular addition to the band.  Two of the members are lovers (lead guitarist and drummer), who also happen to be costumed crime fighters, as is one other (bassist).  All but one (bassist) are from Quebec; the fifth member is from Saskatchewan.  One former member was from Nova Scotia.

So, in my head, as the story unfolds, there’s almost like a backing soundtrack of a modern day metal band that’s performing in my head, almost as though accompanying the story with music to fit.

 

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